Trumbull Junior Legion season ends in state tournament

In keeping with the competitive nature of the squad, Trumbull Post 141’s Junior American Legion baseball team nearly overcame an early 5-1 deficit, but came up one hit short in a 6-4 setback to host Bethel in 17U state tournament pool play on Saturday afternoon.

This loss, Trumbull’s second in the double-elimination event, marks the end of the season for head coach Bob Buswell’s lineup.

It was a strong season overall for fourth-seeded Trumbull (20-3). Buswell’s team was beaten twice by No. 5 Bethel.

With a win, Trumbull would have forced a rematch between the teams since Bethel had previously lost once in pool play.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, when Tim Seymour singled and scored on Tim Lojko’s single, Trumbull saw Bethel respond with a five-spot in the bottom of the opening frame.

Two singles, two walks, and an error led to a run and a bases-loaded situation, and Bethel’s Peter Baia hit a grand slam to break the game open.

Trumbull starting pitcher Steve Ioli settled in after the opening frame and allowed only one run, aided by an error, the rest of the way.

A pair of runs in the top of the second inning sliced the deficit in half.

Robert Goldsmith and Chaz Stolba both walked and scored on a two-out single by Seymour.

It remained 5-3 until Bethel tacked on an insurance run in the fourth.

Goldsmith caught two runners attempting to steal, helping to keep things close.

Trumbull got to within 6-4 in the sixth.

Peter Autuori doubled to right center with one out.

Following a two out walk to Goldsmith, he scored on Stolba’s crisp single to left center.

Bethel starter Stefano Dimeglio was replaced by Nick Vieira, who got a strikeout to escape trouble as Trumbull left the tying runs on base.

In the seventh, Trumbull again knocked on the door.

One-out walks to Seymour and Beau Demelo led to another pitching change, before Bethel reliever Tyler Davis got the last two outs.

“They grind, they never give up and they’re persistent. We could have easily just folded the tent when we were down 5-1 in the first,” Buswell said. “They plugged away, we picked up a run here or there, and next thing you know we’re in the ballgame.”

Ioli allowed four hits from the second through sixth innings, and seemed to get stronger as the game went on, tossing consecutive one-two-three frames to end his outing.

“He kept us in the game until the end,” Buswell said.

Buswell noted that Bethel capitalized on its chances with runners in scoring position.

“You’re always disappointed when it comes to an end,” said Buswell, adding that he was not disappointed with the effort or season overall.

Buswell added that nine of the team members were players who did not make the cut in the varsity high school season.

“Because of their persistence and hard work we had a fantastic year,” Buswell said.